National Team - Lions ● Nov 10, 2018
Lions off to winning start in Suzuki Cup as Hariss strike downs Indonesia
SINGAPORE, 9 NOVEMBER 2018 – A captain’s performance from Hariss Harun saw Singapore clinch a superb 1-0 victory over Indonesia on Friday night to open their 2018 ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup campaign on a winning note.
A clinical finish from Hariss in the 37th minute sealed a first Group B win for the Lions, who were roared on by 30,783 supporters at the National Stadium.
“It’s been so long since I’ve seen a good atmosphere in the stadium,” Head Coach Fandi Ahmad said. “I am delighted for the fans who came down and very importantly, we got the three points, which is very crucial for us.
“Above all, I think we did our job very well. They are a very good team in possession but we knew what we had to do and we did that. We closed down their wingers, who are very fast and that’s why they had no supply (upfront).
“I am very happy for the boys; attacking-wise we were solid but defensively we were very, very solid too. I think the whole team deserves praise.”
From the first whistle, the Lions pressed hard collectively and took the game to Indonesia, who came into the clash as favourites.
Shakir Hamzah, one of six players in the line-up who also started our last Suzuki Cup match in 2016, set up Yasir Hanapi on nine minutes, only for Andritany Ardhiyasa to pull off the save.
Two minutes later, tournament debutant Ikhsan Fandi headed a deep cross from Shakir just wide.
With Ricky Fajrin and Febri Haryadi being shut out by full-backs Zulqarnaen Suzliman and Shakir, the visitors struggled to provide the ammunition to striker Beto and the chances just kept coming for Singapore.
The breakthrough arrived seven minutes past the hour mark after good work from the lively Gabriel Quak down the right, who turned his marker before floating in a left-footed cross.
The delivery was half-cleared and the ball fell to Hariss, who ruthlessly smashed in his third goal in as many games and ninth for the country.
It could have got better two minutes later when Faris Ramli collected Yasir’s nod-down and turned to shoot in the box, only for Andritany to make a superb stop.
Fandi’s charges did not let up after the break and Faris was unfortunate to see his lob come off the bar, before both him and Ikhsan fired wide from range.
The Garuda belatedly made inroads in the final quarter of the match through a couple of long-range efforts that flew off-target, with Hassan Sunny comfortably fielding Rizki Pora’s snapshot – their only shot on target – late on to keep his second tournament clean sheet.
Bima Sakti graciously accepted defeat after the match, saying: “I think they have good organisation in defence and good transition from defence to attack; this was a big problem for us. I also want to say congratulations for the Singapore team and good luck for the next game.”
The result marked a fourth consecutive victory for Singapore, a feat achieved for the first time since January 2005, while it also meant Fandi remains unbeaten in his five games to date.
“I think we have a strong mentality in the team now, they want to be together and they are fighting and motivating each other on the pitch,” he asserted.
“We always tell them we are not playing just for ourselves, but for Singapore football and the fans; they deserved the win today.”